The shipping room is buzzing with activity as we prepare for incoming freshman in just over two weeks! The industry is also buzzing with changes that have become a part of our daily norm over the past few years. I want to highlight a few of them for you.
The National Association of College Stores made some key change announcements at the annual membership meeting July 24. First, Bob Walton, CEO, has been asked to step down and Ed Schlichenmayer will now fill the position. Ed has been involved with the association for 19 years and has an extensive background in college retail. We are excited to see him take the organization back to the roots of supporting the independent college store industry!
Another significant change is that indiCo will be winding down its general merchandise program and exiting the textbook distribution business as well. A decision is coming in the next few months on the trade book distribution business, so look for details on this in the future. IndiCo will continue to fulfill textbook orders for Fall rush where possible, but will not be selling textbooks for the next rush period. NACS is also moving away from the indiCo program of pursuing contracted management of college stores. Going forward they will operate with the intent of moving stores they are currently contracted with back to independent stores.
In library news, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact presented a webinar that featured OhioLINK speaking about their course materials affordability initiatives. This link will take you to the part of the presentation where they speak about the OhioLINK initiative with Inclusive Access. When you watch this short OhioLINK segment, I think it will highlight the importance of getting in front of this topic on your campus. Unfortunately, the message portrayed to policy makers through OhioLINK is that bookstores are often an obstacle when in fact, most of us are already doing Inclusive Access, OER, and the other type of content delivery mentioned. A better approach is to work together in a cross-team effort with all of the key players at the table. Course materials need to be looked at as a basis for student success and not a battleground for library or bookstore survival. We can accomplish a lot more working together using combined strengths. My interactions with other bookstores indicates that most stores feel this way.
In OACS news, the board has been working on Fall Conference preparations which are coming together nicely! We are celebrating our 50th anniversary as an organization and will be recognizing and honoring some past presidents and a special vendor who has been with OACS from the beginning! The program is packed with presenters from the industry and features sessions on marketing and social media, general merchandise trends, inventory management, panel discussions, store only roundtables, store/vendor roundtables, and a vendor trade show! Register now using this link.
The event will be October 7 & 8 at Ashland University - conveniently located just 1 hour north of Columbus and only a few miles off I-71. The conference sessions start at 10am on Monday and will finish at 2pm on Tuesday. Registration is only $130 for store members and $150 for vendor members and gives you full access to all conference functions. Make hotel reservations at the Hampton Inn of Ashland by calling 419-903-0900. Receive a 15% discount by mentioning you are an Ashland Guest. We do not have a block of rooms reserved so make your reservations early.
Renew your membership when you register for the conference to receive a 25% discount on your membership. Membership benefits include bi-monthly industry updates, free admission to the OACS Spring meeting, access to relevant education, and industry networking opportunities.
Finally, OACS is also looking to fill several board positions for the coming year. Members will receive a link to a nomination ballot soon. Nominate yourself or an industry colleague one of the open offices. Diversity in college stores type and size is crucial to having a representative board so we hope you will seriously consider getting involved. The time commitment is manageable and it is highly rewarding to walk alongside and assist your colleagues as we navigate through change. Open positions include Vice President-Elect, Secretary, Store Trustee, and Vendor Trustee.
Privileged to Serve! See you soon!
Tammy Slone, OACS President
Manager of Retail Services